The Future of Student Recruitment

It’s no surprise that, in recent years, the methods of student recruitment have changed dramatically as a result of the rise of mobile and video technology. But it’s not just the technology that’s different… The students are too!

Why have college admissions changed?

  • Students are more aware of their options and are more incentivized to weigh them
  • Students are more selective than ever before
  • Students expect personalization and authenticity 

Student recruiting requires more than before

The student recruiting environment is changing. Students are becoming more tech savvy and demanding of recruiters, which means that you need to adapt your strategy if you want to be successful.

If we look at some key trends in student recruitment, it's clear that the industry is experiencing some major shifts:

  • The number of students applying to multiple schools has increased dramatically over the past few years. This means that there's a lot more competition for those top candidates - and if you don't have an effective plan for reaching them, then someone else will take them away from you!
  • Students who apply outside their home state have also increased significantly over time; according to one survey by Gallup Education Councils (GEC), "The percentage of students who applied outside their home state has risen from 19% in 2005 to 39% today." The sentiment remains - students have more options than before and you will need to work for their attention.

Traditional recruitment methods aren't cutting it

Traditional recruitment methods are no longer effective at bringing in new students. Students expect more than snail mail and phone calls when choosing where they want to attend college. They want social media platforms like Instagram and Snapchat as well as mobile apps that allow them to communicate with admissions counselors. 

A common misconception is that students want automation and chatbots. The data disagrees. Poll after poll shows that Gen Z prefers face-to-face communication (read more in our 2023 Report). So how do you balance new technological methods while also catering to this desire for the human element? 

Not all recruiting tools are created equal

Social media is a great way to create a personality for your school, but it is not a great lead generator or conversion tool. While social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram can be effective at making connections with potential students, they're not ideal for converting those connections into leads, especially when schools use them as their main source of recruitment. In fact, most people who visit these sites leave without taking any action whatsoever.

Pay-to-play data lists are also ineffective, since most students change their majors throughout college anyway (and therefore would no longer qualify). Paying for lists of prospects could be wasted money if you aren't targeting the right audience in the first place.

Virtual tours are effective but not as good as visiting campus in-person! Nothing beats seeing campus life firsthand through real experiences such as attending an open house or visiting during Admitted Student Days where you'll get to interact directly with staff and faculty. 

The evidence becomes more and more clear. If you want to attract high-quality Gen Z students who will make a lasting impact on your campus community, you need to put in the work and have some personal contact with them.


At the end of the day, we want students to feel comfortable with their decision to attend our institutions. We want them to know that we'll be there for them when they need us and that we'll help them achieve their goals. Technologies will come and go, but as long as they remain personal and authentic, student recruitment teams will have the opportunity to succeed.   

Has your team lost its human touch?
Gen Z chooses authenticity, will they choose you?
Book Demo
Take the Gen Z Quiz